February 18, 2014, 2:30 PM

Store-based retailers take the early lead among Top 500 retailers in online sales growth

Early research for this year’s Top 500 Guide shows retail chains grew online sales 24% in 2013, far ahead of the 17% in e-commerce growth in the U.S. reported by the Commerce Department. Store-based merchants also outgrew web-only retailers, consumer brand manufacturers and catalogers.

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The 2014 Top 500 Guide is a little more than two months away from publication, but early research shows that the retail chain segment grew online sales the fastest in 2013. That’s in contrast to early Top 500 research results around this time last year, which showed consumer brand manufacturers ahead in terms of growth.

Thus far, the 20 merchants that have either supplied Internet Retailer directly with 2013 and 2012 e-commerce sales numbers or reported the data publicly grew 23.6% last year to $10.79 billion from $8.73 billion.

Close behind thus far are the 51 web-only merchants, which grew 21.8% to $87.10 billion from $71.50 billion. The six consumer brand manufacturers increased online sales approximately 10.6% to $2.855 billion from $2.581 billion; and the 13 merchants that sell through catalogs, call centers and the web grew around 8.5% to $3.971 billion from $3.662 billion.

As a whole, the 90 retailers that have responded thus far grew e-commerce sales to $104.72 billion last year, up 21.1% from $86.48 billion. North America’s largest e-retailer, Amazon.com Inc. comprised more than 70% of that total, as the merchant last month reported $74.45 billion in sales for 2013.

Without Amazon, the 89 retailers that have supplied data for the Top 500 Guide thus far grew 19.2% in 2013 to $30.27 billion from $25.39 billion.

The 21.1% collective sales growth thus far is slightly behind Top 500 results from this time last year, which showed a 25.3% increase in online sales for 100 retailers to $87.86 billion in 2012 from $70.11 billion in 2011. However, early results show that the Top 500 growth is ahead of the industry as whole, as the U.S. Commerce Department today reported a 16.9% increase in U.S. e-commerce sales in 2013 to $262.51 billion.

In terms of a product category breakdown, merchants in the automotive parts and accessories category collectively grew faster than the 14 other categories, early research shows. The four online auto parts merchants that have responded thus far reported $379.7 million in online sales last year, up 52.0% from 2012.

The housewares and home furnishings category showed the second highest growth—up 33.1% to $1.57 billion. The computers and electronics category came in last and actually showed a decline in collective online sales in 2013. That’s in line with the decline in total personal computer sales in the U.S. and worldwide in 2013. The eight retailers in this segment brought in around $1.62 billion in 2013, down 0.8% from nearly $1.63 billion in 2012. Those numbers are largely skewed by one large online retailer that showed a hefty decrease in online sales in 2013.

The identity of that retailer, and the rest of the updated metrics on the 500 largest online retailers in North America, will be available on Top500Guide.com in late April.

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